Thomasville church reopens after fire


THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) – A 30-year-old Thomasville church is continuing to recover after a fire destroyed it. Grace Pointe Church and its daycare center Glad Tidings Academy were shut down for some time because of the damage.

The fire took away childcare services from over 50 families for two months and even though the daycare and church doors are back open now, church leaders said they still have a long way to go in their recovery.

“To me, it’s just been a miracle that we’ve been able to accumulate so many things in the short time and be able to operate,” said Gigi Welch, the church’s executive director.

On Nov. 17, 2021, flames erupted out of the laundry room in the church while children and staff were going through a normal day at the church’s daycare center. The fire was caused by a dryer. Luckily, no one was injured.

The fire was caused by a dryer.
The fire was caused by a dryer.(Brent Welch)

“We had a lot of kids here that morning,” said Brent Welch, the church’s lead pastor.“That’s one of the biggest pluses of this whole thing. Nobody got hurt. Kids were removed from the building within two minutes.”

It wasn’t the structural damage caused by the dryer fire that put the church out of business but instead the smoke damage. It destroyed all of the daycare’s important supplies such as toys, beds and school documents.

“Everything had to be thrown away,” Gigi said.

A major setback for the church but an even greater turnaround happened.

“This room is filled with toys and it’s all because of the community. So many people—from Thomasville just come to our rescue,” she said.

Books, toys, and monetary support were donated by parents and neighboring businesses throughout the community to help rebuild what the church was before. It’s because of that support that the halls of Glad tidings academy are once again filled with the sound of children.

“I’d never thought I’d enjoy hearing kids this much as I do now,” Brent said.

Brent Welch, lead pastor of the church, said the sprinkler system saved the church from more...
Brent Welch, lead pastor of the church, said the sprinkler system saved the church from more damages.(WALB)

That joy is not only felt among church leaders but also parents.

“This is just a great daycare, a great church. It’s our safe place for our children,” said Mitzi Henderson, an impacted parent.

Some parents like Henderson had no choice but to bring their children to work during those two months. Other parents like Nicole Wynn had to rely solely on their children’s grandparents to watch them.

“It was very stressful, detrimental to us really. We depend a lot on the daycare to help with our youngest child,” Wynn said.

And with the church dealing with $100,000 worth of repairs, it didn’t seem like they would open anytime soon. That is until the community stepped in to help. Monetary and physical donations from parents and neighboring businesses have helped take care of $10,000 of those repairs.

“We serve them and we love their kids every single day and they just returned that to us,” Gigi said.

Gigi Welch, the church's executive director, was relieved to open the church earlier than...
Gigi Welch, the church’s executive director, was relieved to open the church earlier than expected.(WALB)

While the overwhelming support from the community has relieved some of that stress, the church still has a long way to go.

Gigi said they still need to replace the laundry room and replace more items in other classrooms—still, Gigi and Brent are grateful the church is still standing.

“The thing about grace is God is always sufficient, his grace is always sufficient no matter what adversity you face, no matter what you go through. And we’ve just experienced that in a way that we would never imagine we would have to but we’ve just experienced the grace of God,” Brent said.

The church is hosting an official grand reopening on March 11 as a way to say thank you to everyone who supported them through their time of need.

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